Red zoner refusing to surrender

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 06:58 11/08/2014
Brent Cairns
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ

STAYING PUT: Kaiapoi red-zoner Brent Cairns, who rejected the Government's buyout offer, wants his Cass St property excluded from discussions about future use of the written-off land.

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Brent Cairns wants to put the kai back into Kaiapoi.

The North Canterbury red-zoner is keen to see the area's abandoned land turned into a food forest but reiterated his vow to fight any moves to force him off his property.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) last week launched Canvas, a public campaign to decide the future use of the earthquake-damaged land in the region's red zones, starting in Waimakariri.

Cairns, who is among a group of more than 170 Canterbury red-zone "stayers" who rejected the Government offer to buy their land, said Cera should revisit the plans made to remediate and repopulate Kaiapoi before the red-zone policy was decided in June 2011.

The rest of the land could be used for a food forest and sculpture garden, which he was happy to be the caretaker of.

It would "put the kai back into Kaiapoi".

Cairns this week wrote to Cera chief executive Roger Sutton and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee asking that the consultation campaign wording be changed to say the future Crown-owned land only would be considered.

Cera has not ruled out compulsory acquisition of the remaining red-zone land.

The Government risked breaching human rights legislation, Cairns said.

"[Brownlee] is getting the community to decide what is going to happen to our privately owned property. I believe that is in breach of our rights."

Sutton said discussions about possible use of occupied red-zone land were a "long way down the track".

"We need to work out what the communities think the best future use is and then we need to have a conversation with those other people," he said. "At the moment, there are no plans to compulsorily acquire any of those houses and we respect their position."

Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers said essential services to remaining residents were still being provided. It was not just a question of how much but over what period.

Many of the ideas were for "passive recreation", such as market gardens and bike tracks, which was unlikely to be "too expensive or too hard", Ayers said.

The Canvas campaign runs until mid-September.

The public can contribute at canvasredzone.org.nz

A mobile container will be in place on the corner of Charles and Williams streets in Kaiapoi for the next few weeks.

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- The Press

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